Supreme Court Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson was seen last week applauding New Zealand’s “assault” weapons ban at Harvard University, just as a similar ban is being raised by Democratic lawmakers – and could potentially one day be before the Supreme Court.
Jackson was in the audience at New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s commencement speech at Harvard University, and was sat very near Ardern.
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In her address, Ardern lists off various achievements of her government in recent years, from the introduction of gay marriage to climate change commitments.
She then points to one in particular: “Banning military-style semi-automatics and assault rifles.” As she says this, Jackson begins applauding – which is followed by a standing ovation from the audience at the elite university.
Jackson’s applause comes as Democrats across the country have used recent shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York to renew calls for a U.S. ban on “assault” weapons, that are typically defined as semi-automatic weapons with certain features and attachments.
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“We need to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines,” President Biden said in a televised address Thursday night. He has also called for raising the age to purchase firearms, tougher background checks and “red-flag laws.” Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced hearings on a potential assault weapons ban.
Meanwhile, some states already have assault weapons bans in place, while other states are looking at passing them in the wake of those shootings. The federal government last passed an assault weapons ban in 1994, which expired in 2004.
Critics of those measures have said that they are not only ineffective, but also infringe upon the rights of law-abiding gun owners. It means that any such assault weapons ban could eventually be subject to a legal challenge and be before the Supreme Court.
Jackson was confirmed by the Senate in April after being nominated by President Biden and will sit on the nation’s highest court after Justice Stephen Breyer steps down at the end of the Supreme Court term this summer. She will be the first Black female justice on the court.